Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Liverpool Want My Help To Sell Club, Says Russell King

Russell King claims to have received "extensive ongoing requests from members of the board asking for assistance" in selling Liverpool. King was the consultant who brought the "consortium of Middle Eastern and European investors" – and Sven-Goran Eriksson – to Notts County last year, and whose involvement caused the Football League not to pass the takeover as fit and proper.

Soon afterwards the entire club went into crisis, nearly collapsing under the £6m debt it ran up in little more than six months. Digger can reveal that King had previously been involved in Liverpool's search for investment from Dubai in 2006. He says he was asked to attend a meeting with a director of a company belonging to Sheikh Mohammed, the emir of Dubai. Subsequently, and in continuation of that meeting, King claims, the Liverpool board then pursued the aborted deal with Dubai International Capital.

Others familiar with the situation say Liverpool board members travelled out to meet him in Dubai in 2006 and that it quickly became clear he could not fulfill the promise of an introduction to the sheikh, whereupon they broke off contact. Now, claims King, the current board has been in touch. He said: "The board in no way broke contact and there are extensive ongoing requests from members of the board asking for assistance."

The board declined to comment last night but an insider in the sale process stressed King has no official involvement. However, given the increasing desperation of the situation, Digger would not put it past someone getting in touch to ask for help.

Deschamps Happy To Reject Reds

Didier Deschamps insists he has 'no regrets' at having spurned the opportunity to join Liverpool.

In the wake of Rafa Benitez's departure earlier this summer, the Anfield hierarchy identified Deschamps as a possible candidate for their vacant managerial post.

They subsequently asked reigning Ligue 1 champions Marseille for permission to speak with their boss, keen to determine whether he would be interested.

However, the former France international made it clear from the start that he had no interest in taking the reins on Merseyside.

Deschamps, who helped Marseille to European Cup glory in 1993, feels a special affinity to his current employers and admits he would find it difficult to walk away from the job.

With that in mind, and with unfinished business to attend to at Stade Velodrome, the World Cup winner claims he is happy with the career choices he has made.

"Liverpool? I have no regrets," Deschamps told L'Equipe.

"With Marseille, the emotional aspect is very important. I preferred to sign an extension here rather than start again in a new place.

"I made that choice because I cam convinced that we have the ambition to do much more than we did last season, a lot more.

"That ambition depends on us bringing in three or four reinforcements though.

"Quality is important, but it has a price. I know we are in a difficult period economically, and we are in France, but I was convinced that we could keep our best players and bring in some new ones."

Martin Skrtel Signs Two-Year Contract Extension At Liverpool

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has signed a two-year extension to his current contract at Anfield, and now believes that the Reds are strong enough to win trophies.

The Slovakian was delighted to have extended his stay at the club having already enjoyed almost three years on Merseyside.

With his original deal having had another two years to run, he is looking forward to spending the next four years at Anfield.

"I'm very pleased," the defender told his club's official website.

"I have been at Liverpool for nearly three years and I really like it here. I like the city, I like the club and I like the fans so I'm happy I am able to sign a new contract.

"Liverpool is one of the biggest clubs in the world so I am proud I can play here for four more years.

"We have quality in the dressing room and I know we will do better this year. A club like Liverpool deserves to win trophies and I will help them do that, hopefully this season.

"Everyone plays football to win trophies. Playing for Liverpool is a big motivation for everyone and we will do everything we can to win the Premier League. We have the highest targets - to win everything."

Skrtel joined the Reds in January 2008 for £6 million. He believes that he has proved the doubters wrong in that time.

"Before I came here a lot of people thought I wasn't good enough to play for Liverpool, but I think I have shown I am," he added.

"I'm happy to try and carry on giving good performances and doing my best for the club. Signing a new contract gives me confidence and I will work hard in training every day to play as many games as possible. You can always improve. I know the good and bad parts of my game and I will keep working.

"Lots of things have changed at the club this year with new players, a new manager and new medical staff. The spirit is very good and we showed that against Arsenal with a great performance. We can build on that and carry it on."

Inter Still In The Hunt For Liverpool Midfielder Javier Mascherano

Inter could still snap up Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano this summer, according to tuttomercatoweb.

The Argentina captain had been linked with a move to the treble winners after Rafael Benitez was appointed coach at San Siro, but the speculation had died down recently as Barcelona seemed to be on the verge of signing the 26-year-old.

However, Blaugrana sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta recently denied reports that the club has reached an agreement to acquire the former Corinthians man.

With the midfielder seemingly unlikely to leave for the Camp Nou, Benitez could still link up with one of his favourites in Serie A.

Mascherano has excelled at Liverpool since his arrival in 2007, making nearly 140 appearances for the club.

Liverpool Goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri Signs For Cesena

Italian side Cesena have signed Liverpool goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri, according to a report in TuttoPalermo.

The 28-year old Brazilian signed from Palmeiras in 2008 for around €3.6m and although has yet to make his league debut for the club, he has appeared in both the Champions League and Liverpool's Europa League qualifier this season.

Cavalieri holds an Italian passport so the move will not be a problem, however no official announcement has been made regarding a fee and the length of contract. It is believed that Cesena will first take the keeper on loan for the season with a view to a permanent deal of just over €1.2m.

Cesena will kick off their Serie A campaign after promotion last year with a huge test away at Roma.

LFC Must Avoid Another Trabzonspor Horror Trip

October 1976 and Liverpool are through to the second round of the European Cup.

A 7-0 aggregate win over Belfast part-timers Crusaders has set up a journey into the unknown to face Turkish champions Trabzonspor.

In contrast to the short hop across the Irish Sea, this next trip took Bob Paisley’s side to one of Europe’s furthest outposts.

Nestled on the Black Sea coast of north eastern Turkey it was the furthest flung venture in Liverpool’s fledgling travels.

It was also a journey Paisley’s European champions in waiting would never forget.

“Trabzonspor in 1977 was the worst European trip,” said Ray Clemence some years later.

“The pitch had rocks all over it. The hotel was awful, we were woken by the noise of farm animals at 5am, the food was terrible and we lost 1-0.”

In short, nothing went right.

As Liverpool host the Turkish Cup winners at Anfield tomorrow night ahead of next week’s return in the Europa League play-off tie, another player on that trip, David Fairclough, sheds further light on the last time the Reds travelled to Trabzon.

While he hopes standards in the old trade port have improved with the passage of time, Fairclough explains why there is greater emphasis on the Reds getting the job done at Anfield.

Welcome to hell? It was last time he was there.

“I’m not sure what it’s like now but in those days it was such a headache just getting to Trabzon,” explains Fairclough.

“The main runway was that small it would only accept internal flights.

“We actually stayed in Ankara initially, where we trained before flying on to Trabzon for the game. It was very much a reduced group that went on to Trabzon, with barely any media and no supporters.

“I remember it so vividly simply because it was so shocking.

“It was just one thing after another.”

With Liverpool chasing the game after Cemil put the hosts in front from the penalty spot in the 65th minute, Fairclough replaced Steve Heighway 10 minutes later as the sleep-deprived Reds looked to salvage something to bring back to Anfield.

“There’s no doubt the conditions contributed to our losing over there,” continues Fairclough.

“As we pulled up to the hotel I remember Bob Paisley coming out with the now infamous words ‘they’ve put us in a doss house. I had better rations in my bivvy in the western desert,’ he said.

“It wasn’t the most impressive of places. The modern player probably wouldn’t be too happy about staying there but we had little alternative in those days. We were still finding our way in Europe.

“Then the hotel turned out to be right next to a prayer tower. Of course, they pray five or six times a day through what was a very basic public address system that wails out across the town.

“Rest wasn’t really easy to come by.

“After that, there were continuous electricity failures. There are images from the trip of the lads sitting round eating and playing cards by candle light.

“I remember going out for a walk with Jimmy Case and Ray Kennedy. There was nowhere to go. It was a very basic place.

“We just had to sit around the hotel and bide our time for the game.”

At least it was an afternoon kick-off. The 25,000 capacity Trabzon Sehir Stadt had no floodlights. If it had, there would have been no electricity to power them anyway.

It was a steep learning curve along the road to European domination.

Hygiene concerns saw Liverpool’s backroom staff cook their own food and even the match ball wasn’t fit for its purpose.

“It looked a little bit past its sell-by date,” is Fairclough’s diplomatic way of putting it.

Paisley didn’t hold back, however. “It was worse than a pig’s bladder at a Durham miner’s gala,” barked the usually reserved Geordie.

Naturally, Liverpool were glad to get back to Anfield where three goals inside the first 20 minutes put Trabzonspor to the sword and Paisley’s men into the third round.

It was here when Fairclough’s career-defining moment arrived; his 84th minute goal in the second leg at Anfield disposing of French champions St Etienne and sending Liverpool into the semi-finals on the way to Rome.

Now there is nothing he would love more than to see Roy Hodgson’s Reds end a four-year barren spell by lifting a trophy this season.

The Europa League presents one option and Fairclough believes Joe Cole and Fernando Torres can be key to progression into the competition proper.

“It’s over 30 years on and you would imagine it won’t be quite as intimidating for Liverpool.” he says.

“But we know just how passionate the Turkish fans are from recent trips to Galatasaray and Besiktas.

“We can’t leave too much to chance tomorrow night ahead of the return.

“We need goals and Joe Cole and Fernando Torres could be vital for us.

“Joe will be keen to make the most of his game time in light of his Premier League suspension and will probably figure heavily in both legs.

“Fernando is still on his way back so the more time he gets the better. A goal would give him masses of confidence.”

Hodgson To Make £3m Bid For Former Fulham Full-Back

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is closing in on a cut-price £3m deal for Paul Konchesky.

Hodgson is ready to raid his former club for the 29-year-old left back who only has one year left on his contract at Fulham.

Konchesky missed Fulham’s opener at Bolton last Saturday and is believed to be keen on following his former manager to Anfield.

Hodgson is having to wheel and deal on limited funds and a move for his old trusted left back would represent good business in his eyes.

Liverpool were forced to play Danish centre half Daniel Agger out of position at left back against Arsenal on Sunday because they are short in that position.

Emiliano Insua is surplus to requirements and a move to Fiorentina fell through last month while the club has re-signed Fabio Aurelio.

But that has not ended Liverpool’s interest in Konchesky as Hodgson remains a big admirer of a player he made a mainstay of his defence at Fulham.

Liverpool To Make Fresh Bid For West Ham Star

Scott Parker is the latest English player to emerge on Roy Hodgson's radar at Liverpool.

Despite West Ham's unwillingness to sell their 30-year-old captain, Parker is admired at Anfield where Roy Hodgson has been monitoring his situation for some time.

The Reds' next move depends on the future of Javier Mascherano who has declared his intention to leave the club but for whom there have been no firm offers.

Inter Milan had been in pole position to land him with Rafa Benitez keen on being united with his former midfield general. But Barcelona appeared yesterday to have entered the race with winger Lionel Messi urging the Spanish club to snap Mascherano up.

Parker, meanwhile, has yet to sign the five-year deal offered to him by West Ham in order to ward off interest from his many suitors.

The midfielder, well respected inside and outside the dressing room at Upton Park, still has three years left to run on his current deal, signed only last year.

But the Hammers made their dramatic offer after turning down an £8million bid from Spurs to sign the player several weeks ago.

Parker is known to be keen on Champions League football and is also tempted at the chance to play a part in reviving LIverpool's fortunes under Roy Hodgson.

Babel Could be Used As Makeweight In Ruiz Bid

Liverpool are hoping to secure the signing of highly rated Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz and Roy Hodgson is willing to offer Dutch winger Ryan Babel as part of a swap deal to help seal the FC Twente striker’s signature. The 24 year old goal machine has been a big hit in the Eredivisie, scoring 24 goals in his first season to help his side to their first ever domestic title.

A number of Europe’s elite have been monitoring the 24 year old for some time and the departure of Steve McClaren for Wolfsburg has appeared to have had an unsettling effect on the club as they started the new season with two limp draws.

The adaptable attacker can play in a number of positions but excels as a speedy striker and could be just the kind of player the Anfield manager is looking for as he attempts to boost his attacking options. Ryan Babel may be keen on a move back to his country of birth and may feel a move to a side competing in the Champions League may be a good step to take as opposed to reported interest from Birmingham City.

Ruiz is valued at around £14m so any deal could well involve the Merseyside club having to fork out some cash as well as the £9m rated Babel.

Wolfsburg Line Up Shock £9m Deal For Liverpool Midfielder

Liverpool is ready to sell flying Dutchman Ryan Babel to Steve McClaren’s German giants Wolfsburg in a shock £9 million deal.

Babel is wanted by McClaren’s wealthy club and talks between the clubs were at an advanced stage last night.

Boss Roy Hodgson has overlooked Babel so far as he plans for the season and it is up to the former Ajax player to accept the move as Wolfsburg will pay the fee.

The Babel sale would be a surprise windfall for Liverpool who has been trying to move out unwanted fringe men all summer without too much success.

Hodgson thinks he can do without Babel, whose erratic style has failed to impress since Rafa Benitez bought him a couple of years ago. The money would help with the club’s finances while they sort out their potential takeover.

Babel was also wanted by Birmingham City but Wolfsburg are the clear leaders in the race.